The father of a young footy fan who flew the Israeli flag at the club’s season-opening game to support Jewish star Harry Sheezel has lashed out at the AFL for saying the symbol should have been confiscated.
The supporter, known only as Josh, displayed the flag to show his backing for Sheezel, who was on the receiving end of vile anti-Semitic slurs just before he was drafted by North Melbourne last November.
The flag upset some fans at last Saturday’s win over West Coast and the AFL admitted it should have been confiscated under league rules, in an email seen by SEN.
Sheezel is seen in front of the Israeli flag after playing a starring role in the Kangaroos’ win over West Coast, with another fan holding a ‘mazel-tov Harry’ sign to support the star
Josh, the young AFL fan who displayed the symbol to back Sheezel after he copped anti-Semitic abuse last year, should have been banned from entering the ground with it, the league said in an email
Anyone who displayed the symbol and refused to hand it over should have been kicked out of the ground, the league explained.
That infuriated Josh’s father Gary, who branded the AFL a ‘joke’ over the issue and said his son got the all clear to bring the flag to the game when he asked police about it beforehand.
‘Not surprising from the AFL. Can they get any more woke and politically correct?’ he said in an interview with 3AW.
‘It’s frustrating, it really is, with all the anti-Semitism that’s going on.
‘I said to him look, you don’t have to take the Israeli flag, you could just take the Star of David, because he also did the sign that said ‘mazel tov Harry’ [good luck Harry].
‘Where’s it going to end if they’re going to ban signs that say mazel tov Harry? It’s getting ridiculous.
‘We’ve got a lot of South Sudanese players playing. Are we going to ban the South Sudanese flag? … What about banning the Australian flag?
Sheezel turned in one of the best debuts seen in the AFL for a long time in the victory over West Coast – and Josh’s father said his son will fly the flag again in their match against Carlton
‘The AFL just makes up the rules as they go along, they really do.’
Gary – who confirmed he and his son are Jewish – said nobody at the ground took offence to the flag and said the North Melbourne cheer squad ‘loved’ Josh and welcomed him to sit with them again, despite the fact he’s a Carlton supporter.
He believes Josh will take the flag to the Good Friday game between the Blues and Kangaroos, where he’ll still be keen to show his support for Sheezel.
According to the AFL’s email on the matter, that could see him barred from getting into the match.
Third-round draft pick Sheezel is already a huge favourite with the Shinboners faithful
In it, league security boss Alistair Meldrum said the flag breached the game’s conditions of entry.
‘Once identified, it [the flag] should then have been requested to be seized/confiscated or the patron in possession requested to leave if they refused to surrender the flag.’
The conditions of entry to AFL games include bans on patrons who ‘wear or otherwise display commercial, political, religious or offensive signage or logos of any kind’.
Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich said the AFL’s stance is wildly inconsistent and discriminatory.
Either you have a consistent enforcement policy concerning all national flags that demonstrates coherency and fairness, or you don’t,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘This case does feel like discrimination and double standards especially when you consider that there were no objections or statements by Gillon McLachlan when last year Magpies fans celebrated in front of Collingwood forward Mason Cox by waving a US flag, or back in 2012 when Mike Pyke draped himself with the Canadian flag during the grand final.’
Gary isn’t the only footy supporter who was left gobsmacked by the move.
‘Do we ban all flags now?’ Channel Nine presenter Shane McInnes asked in a tweet.
‘With all the anti semetism [sic] young Harry had to endure when drafted, surely an Israeli flag should be welcomed.’
‘So we are going to ban the Australian flag too then? Or the USA flag? It’s an official nations flag. Come on now #AFL,’ another fan tweeted.